What to consider when looking for a home inspector.
Before you buy and move into that darling colonial house on the corner, it’s imperative to know the house is structurally sound and the systems are in good working condition. You need an expert’s opinion on what issues are a simple fix and what problems might end up as a deal breaker. How do you find an inspector and how can you be confident that the inspector you hire is qualified?
Your real estate agent has likely worked with many inspectors over the years and has their favorites. That is a good place to start – but it shouldn’t be your only option. Make sure you get not only recommendations, but references, and get them from more than just your agent.
There isn’t any official licensing to become a home inspector in the state of Minnesota, but you can find inspectors who have taken courses and are certified through the Professional Home Inspection Institute (PHII) and are members of reputable organizations, such as ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors) and MSHI (Minnesota Society of Home Inspectors). These organizations have rigorous requirements for membership, offer continuing education classes for technical skills and customer service. These organizations offer search engines on their web sites for you to find an inspector in your area by simply plugging in your city or zip code.
Make sure the person you hire can do the inspection on systems unique to your property – such as septic systems or wells. Some lenders have certain requirements for inspections with these systems on the property and you really don’t want to have to bring in more than one inspector if you don’t have to (more expensive and time consuming).
Find out how much time they usually spend at the house, if you can walk along with them during the inspection, and what kind of report you’ll get. Many inspectors have check-lists of all the areas they inspect, but you really want a report to include detailed narrative and photos of the areas that need work.
Inspect the Inspector: Do your homework and check for complaints against your prospective inspector, interview them, find out about their insurance and years of experience. And don’t forget to find out if they are involved with the reputable organizations listed above.
The bottom line is you need to have confidence the home you are buying is in good condition and a solid investment – and unless you’re a home inspector yourself, you need to trust an expert. Do some homework, ask a lot of questions and you’ll find the right inspector.
The Minnesota Association of REALTORS® is the largest trade association in the state with more than 17,000 members. MNAR is the voice for real estate in Minnesota.